In a negative (-) earth-return system, the current flows from the positive (+) terminal to the component being operated. The component is earthed to the car body, which is earthed to the negative (-) terminal of the battery.
To guard against this, ancillary circuits have fuses. The most common type of fuse is a short length of thin wire enclosed in a heatproof casing often glass. The size of the fuse wire is the thinnest that can carry the normal current of the circuit without overheating, and it is rated in amps.
Current flows along a single cable from the battery to the component being powered, and back to the battery through the car metal body. The body is connected to the earth terminal of the battery by a thick cable.
Depending on the fuse design, it is sometimes possible to tell whether it has blown by holding it up against a light; a break in the wire inside may be visible. Another clue is blackening of the glass cover. If there is no visible sign, check by fitting another fuse of the same rating; if that cures the trouble, then the fuse was to blame.